Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jury Duty

The day required much patience. And even more reading material. Jury duty. I hadn't been summoned in 20-25 years. I was called only once while living in Pittsburgh. And wasn't chosen as a juror. Today was the first time I was summoned here in Lake Charles. I didn't relish the thought of serving as a juror. I don't do well sitting for extended periods in confined places. And, like everyone, "I'm too busy." So I hoped I wouldn't be chosen. But I went with an open mind, knowing it's a duty as a US citizen to serve, and if I had been chosen, I was willing.

Especially in the morning, one can't help but feel like a bit of an automaton. File in, sit down, fill out a form, listen to directions, get in line, take a break, sit down, wait. Get in line, sit, sit, answer questions, sit. I'm so hungry! And cold, too. Darn A/C, despite my sweater. Lunch! Then more of the same after lunch, until -- keep your fingers crossed -- they excuse me, finally, late in the afternoon.

Actually, some of the day held my interest. I learned a lot of new things, about things I've never thought about before, being that I don't watch Law and Order or CSI. I thought I learned a new word . . . sounded like waldeer. But I can't find it in any dictionary, and I'm sure I'm spelling it wrong. Lawyer friends, help me out. What is the process of jury selection called? And I learned all about presumption of innocence, burden of proof, credibility, reliability, "reasonable doubt but not all possible doubt," etc.

One thing was very different from my experience in Pittsburgh. In Pgh, prospective jurors were questioned individually and privately by the attorneys. Here, potential jurors are brought up in groups to the jury box and questioned together in front of the whole room, over 50 people. A bit intimidating. But I answered all the questions as honestly as I could.

The case will likely be an interesting one. A criminal case, attempted murder and armed robbery. We were asked many questions, but the one that set me apart and likely got me the first X by my name; How do you feel about guns? Well, I steadfastly cling to a most unpopular opinion down here regarding guns. In this land of avid hunters and the tightly embraced "right to bear arms," I don't like them. I don't own one. I won't have one in my home. And I was very clear on that. I didn't know a soul in the room. So what did I care. We were asked, "Do you own a gun?" And I think I was one of only a couple folks in the whole room who doesn't. But what most likely got my name decidedly crossed off the list was when I asked a question in regards to "reliability." I asked, "Knowing that this crime occured in 2004, and knowing that much of the prosecution's evidence will be eye witnesses, how can we know that these witnesses accurately recall the details, five years later?" "Hmm," I imagined the attorneys thinking. "Nope, not her."

Now all I have to do is wait for my $25.00 check.

8 comments:

leafmonster said...

Could it be "voir dire"? I think it's a term from ancient French,but I'm not sure. It would be pronounced "vwar deer" so it sounds pretty close to "waldeer".

Supposedly there is another Old French term that is used in court: "Oyez, Oyez" (which would be pronounced something like "Oh-yay"). I think the bailiff is supposed to say this when the judge is about to enter the room. Or maybe not. I haven't been in a courtroom in a long time.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Yes, that's it! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

let's see .. for evidence, not only do they have testimony, they have a piece of scalp/head with dna; suspect matches dna and is missing a piece of his scalp/head... plus, if you were ever accosted in a parking lot by two robbers brandishing a gun who said they were going to kill you and your co-worker, i'm quite sure that your memory of that event would be very fresh 40 years later, let alone 4. especially if you yourself had decided to pull your own gun to defend yourself instead of hoping for the best with the criminals. if not, odds are you and your co-worker would be dead. plus, if you yourself were shot and spent weeks if not months in and out of hospital rehabbing, i'm sure that your memory would be pretty fresh. what else would you be thinking of for all of that time? certainly not someone in the future getting paid $25 to get out of their duty because they don't like guns? in this case, instead of trying to get out of it, it would have been best for you and the victims to look at this situation reasonably, put your personal opinions about gun control aside, and see to it that justice was served for the victims who endured a horror of the sorts you have never known

Angie said...

Dear anonymous,

I obviously struck a nerve. As I said, I was completely open to serving as a juror. I was under oath to answer all questions honestly. And when they asked me if my feelings about guns would prevent me from being a competent, fair, reasonable juror, I answered No. Yes, I could have and would have put my personal feelings aside and would have been the best juror I could have been. At the time the jury was selected, I was not aware of any evidence from the case. I read about that in the newspaper yesterday. I apologize for offending you.

GerdieMom said...

I didn't read your blog as if you were trying to get out of jury duty. In fact, you said, "I went with an open mind, knowing it's a duty as a US citizen to serve, and if I had been chosen, I was willing." As part of the jury selection process we are required to answer any questions they ask honestly. This is what you did.

We all have different life experiences that form our beliefs and make us who we are. The key is to understand that and be accepting and respectful of it.

Angie said...

Thank you and Amen.

Anonymous said...

The last lines from your own post, that YOU typed: "'I asked, "Knowing that this crime occured in 2004, and knowing that much of the prosecution's evidence will be eye witnesses, how can we know that these witnesses accurately recall the details, five years later?" "Hmm," I imagined the attorneys thinking. "Nope, not her."

Now all I have to do is wait for my $25.00 check."

Be honest, not only were you trying to get out of jury duty, you were proud of it and smug about it too.
If you'd like to act like you weren't to make yourself feel better, I guess that's your decision. At any rate, I'm sure you'll watch the trial with genuine interest now.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Sorry, it was an honest question to which I wanted an honest answer to. I'm naturally curious that way. It wasn't until after I asked the question that it occured to me the lawyers might take pause. You're reading too much into it. Please don't presume to know how I think.